Area students compete at Southwest Washington Chess Championships at Centralia College


The 2023 Southwest Washington Scholastic Chess Championships were held at Centralia College on Saturday, Feb. 4, with organizers calling the event the largest chess tournament in Lewis County history. 

The regional qualifier tournament was attended by 210 chess players from 93 different schools in the areas to the south and west of Seattle. 

The tournament was hosted by the Washington High School Chess Association and consisted of both a high school championship and a middle school championship. Winning teams in the high school championship qualified to compete in the High School Chess Team Championships at Stanwood High School in March. 

Addison Flora, a senior from Olympia High School, became the 2023 Southwest Washington High School Grand Champion by winning the 104-player high school championship with a perfect score of five wins and no losses or draws. 

Five players tied for second, each having given up a draw in one of their five rounds. Viviana Ibanez and Gabriel Priest, of W.F. West High School, were among those who tied for second, along with Naato’Si Craven, of Columbia River High School in Vancouver, Joshua Haelle, of Pope John Paul II High School in Lacey, and Brynden Olson, of Eatonville High School. 

Three players tied for first place in the middle school championship. Stephen Belgau, of Jefferson Middle School in Olympia; Tynan Young-Byle, of View Ridge Middle School in Ridgefield; and Aiden Zheng, of Tumwater Middle School, all went undefeated with five wins in the 106-player tournament. Lou Kissinger, of River HomeLink in Battle Ground, placed fourth in the middle school championship.

Six high school teams qualified for the State High School Team Championships in March. Olympia High School came in first with 19 points. W.F. West and Columbia River high schools tied for second with 16 points while Seton Catholic High School in Vancouver, Eatonville High School and Forks High School came in fourth, fifth and sixth. 

Jefferson Middle School gave the most checkmates and won the Middle School Team Championship with 15 points. Centralia Middle School came in second with a half point lead over the third place school, Blue Heron Middle Schools of Port Townsend. South Bend Junior High, Cedar Heights Middle School, of Port Orchard, and Forks Middle School tied for fourth. 

The full results can be found online at